Part 4 out of 5
"You understand," he said, "that he is a youth of most careful bringing
up, and his character and morals are without a stain. He is young and has
never been abroad, never even seen a large city, and his parents have
requested me, as an old family friend living in Paris, to see that he is
placed under good influences. He is to study art, but on no account would
his parents wish him to live in the Latin Quarter if they knew of the
immorality which is rife there."
A sound like the click of a latch interrupted him and he raised his eyes,
but not in time to see the maid slap the big-headed young man behind the
Madame coughed, cast a deadly glance behind her and then beamed on Dr.
"It ees well zat he come here. The pension more serious, il n'en existe
pas, eet ees not any!" she announced with conviction.
So, as there was nothing more to add, Dr. Byram joined Hastings at the
"I trust," he said, eyeing the Convent, "that you will make no
acquaintances among Jesuits!"
Hastings looked at the Convent until a pretty girl passed before the gray
facade, and then he looked at her. A young fellow with a paint-box and
canvas came swinging along, stopped before the pretty girl, said something
during a brief but vigorous handshake at which they both laughed, and he
went his way, calling back, "A demain Valentine!" as in the same breath
she cried, "A demain!"
"Valentine," thought Hastings, "what a quaint name;" and he started to
follow the Reverend Joel Byram, who was shuffling towards the nearest
"An' you are pleas wiz Paris, Monsieur' Astang?" demanded Madame Marotte
the next morning as Hastings came into the breakfast-room of the pension,
rosy from his plunge in the limited bath above.
"I am sure I shall like it," he replied, wondering at his own depression
The maid brought him coffee and rolls. He returned the vacant glance of
the big-headed young man and acknowledged diffidently the salutes of the
snuffy old gentlemen. He did not try to finish his coffee, and sat
crumbling a roll, unconscious of the sympathetic glances of Madame
Marotte, who had tact enough not to bother him.
Presently a maid entered with a tray on which were balanced two bowls of
chocolate, and the snuffy old gentlemen leered at her ankles. The maid
deposited the chocolate at a table near the window and smiled at Hastings.
Then a thin young lady, followed by her counterpart in all except years,
marched into the room and took the table near the window. They were
evidently American, but Hastings, if he expected any sign of recognition,
was disappointed. To be ignored by compatriots intensified his depression.
He fumbled with his knife and looked at his plate.
The thin young lady was talkative enough. She was quite aware of Hastings'
presence, ready to be flattered if he looked at her, but on the other hand
she felt her superiority, for she had been three weeks in Paris and he, it
was easy to see, had not yet unpacked his steamer-trunk.
Her conversation was complacent. She argued with her mother upon the
relative merits of the Louvre and the Bon Marche, but her mother's part of
the discussion was mostly confined to the observation, "Why, Susie!"
The snuffy old gentlemen had left the room in a body, outwardly polite and
inwardly raging. They could not endure the Americans, who filled the room
with their chatter.
The big-headed young man looked after them with a knowing cough,
murmuring, "Gay old birds!"
"They look like bad old men, Mr. Bladen," said the girl.
To this Mr. Bladen smiled and said, "They've had their day," in a tone
which implied that he was now having his.
"And that's why they all have baggy eyes," cried the girl. "I think it's a
shame for young gentlemen--"
"Why, Susie!" said the mother, and the conversation lagged.
After a while Mr. Bladen threw down the _Petit Journal_, which he daily
studied at the expense of the house, and turning to Hastings, started to
make himself agreeable. He began by saying, "I see you are American."
To this brilliant and original opening, Hastings, deadly homesick, replied
gratefully, and the conversation was judiciously nourished by observations
from Miss Susie Byng distinctly addressed to Mr. Bladen. In the course of
events Miss Susie, forgetting to address herself exclusively to Mr.
Bladen, and Hastings replying to her general question, the _entente
cordiale_ was established, and Susie and her mother extended a
protectorate over what was clearly neutral territory.
"Mr. Hastings, you must not desert the pension every evening as Mr. Bladen
does. Paris is an awful place for young gentlemen, and Mr. Bladen is a
Mr. Bladen looked gratified.
Hastings answered, "I shall be at the studio all day, and I imagine I
shall be glad enough to come back at night."
Mr. Bladen, who, at a salary of fifteen dollars a week, acted as agent for
the Pewly Manufacturing Company of Troy, N.Y., smiled a sceptical smile
and withdrew to keep an appointment with a customer on the Boulevard
Hastings walked into the garden with Mrs. Byng and Susie, and, at their
invitation, sat down in the shade before the iron gate.
The chestnut trees still bore their fragrant spikes of pink and white, and
the bees hummed among the roses, trellised on the white-walled house.
A faint freshness was in the air. The watering carts moved up and down the
street, and a clear stream bubbled over the spotless gutters of the rue de
la Grande Chaumiere. The sparrows were merry along the curb-stones, taking
bath after bath in the water and ruffling their feathers with delight. In
a walled garden across the street a pair of blackbirds whistled among the
Hastings swallowed the lump in his throat, for the song of the birds and
the ripple of water in a Paris gutter brought back to him the sunny
meadows of Millbrook.
"That's a blackbird," observed Miss Byng; "see him there on the bush with
pink blossoms. He's all black except his bill, and that looks as if it had
been dipped in an omelet, as some Frenchman says--"
"Why, Susie!" said Mrs. Byng.
"That garden belongs to a studio inhabited by two Americans," continued
the girl serenely, "and I often see them pass. They seem to need a great
many models, mostly young and feminine--"
"Perhaps they prefer painting that kind, but I don't see why they should
invite five, with three more young gentlemen, and all get into two cabs
and drive away singing. This street," she continued, "is dull. There is
nothing to see except the garden and a glimpse of the Boulevard
Montparnasse through the rue de la Grande Chaumiere. No one ever passes
except a policeman. There is a convent on the corner."
"I thought it was a Jesuit College," began Hastings, but was at once
overwhelmed with a Baedecker description of the place, ending with, "On
one side stand the palatial hotels of Jean Paul Laurens and Guillaume
Bouguereau, and opposite, in the little Passage Stanislas, Carolus Duran
paints the masterpieces which charm the world."
The blackbird burst into a ripple of golden throaty notes, and from some
distant green spot in the city an unknown wild-bird answered with a frenzy
of liquid trills until the sparrows paused in their ablutions to look up
with restless chirps.
Then a butterfly came and sat on a cluster of heliotrope and waved his
crimson-banded wings in the hot sunshine. Hastings knew him for a friend,
and before his eyes there came a vision of tall mulleins and scented
milkweed alive with painted wings, a vision of a white house and
woodbine-covered piazza,--a glimpse of a man reading and a woman leaning
over the pansy bed,--and his heart was full. He was startled a moment
later by Miss Byng.
"I believe you are homesick!" Hastings blushed. Miss Byng looked at him
with a sympathetic sigh and continued: "Whenever I felt homesick at first
I used to go with mamma and walk in the Luxembourg Gardens. I don't know
why it is, but those old-fashioned gardens seemed to bring me nearer home
than anything in this artificial city."
"But they are full of marble statues," said Mrs. Byng mildly; "I don't see
the resemblance myself."
"Where is the Luxembourg?" inquired Hastings after a silence.
"Come with me to the gate," said Miss Byng. He rose and followed her, and
she pointed out the rue Vavin at the foot of the street.
"You pass by the convent to the right," she smiled; and Hastings went.
The Luxembourg was a blaze of flowers. He walked slowly through the long
avenues of trees, past mossy marbles and old-time columns, and threading
the grove by the bronze lion, came upon the tree-crowned terrace above the
fountain. Below lay the basin shining in the sunlight. Flowering almonds
encircled the terrace, and, in a greater spiral, groves of chestnuts wound
in and out and down among the moist thickets by the western palace wing.
At one end of the avenue of trees the Observatory rose, its white domes
piled up like an eastern mosque; at the other end stood the heavy palace,
with every window-pane ablaze in the fierce sun of June.
Around the fountain, children and white-capped nurses armed with bamboo
poles were pushing toy boats, whose sails hung limp in the sunshine. A
dark policeman, wearing red epaulettes and a dress sword, watched them for
a while and then went away to remonstrate with a young man who had
unchained his dog. The dog was pleasantly occupied in rubbing grass and
dirt into his back while his legs waved into the air.
The policeman pointed at the dog. He was speechless with indignation.
"Well, Captain," smiled the young fellow.
"Well, Monsieur Student," growled the policeman.
"What do you come and complain to me for?"
"If you don't chain him I'll take him," shouted the policeman.
"What's that to me, mon capitaine?"
"Wha--t! Isn't that bull-dog yours?"
"If it was, don't you suppose I'd chain him?"
The officer glared for a moment in silence, then deciding that as he was a
student he was wicked, grabbed at the dog, who promptly dodged. Around and
around the flower-beds they raced, and when the officer came too near for
comfort, the bull-dog cut across a flower-bed, which perhaps was not
The young man was amused, and the dog also seemed to enjoy the exercise.
The policeman noticed this and decided to strike at the fountain-head of
the evil. He stormed up to the student and said, "As the owner of this
public nuisance I arrest you!"
"But," objected the other, "I disclaim the dog."
That was a poser. It was useless to attempt to catch the dog until three
gardeners lent a hand, but then the dog simply ran away and disappeared in
the rue de Medici.
The policeman shambled off to find consolation among the white-capped
nurses, and the student, looking at his watch, stood up yawning. Then
catching sight of Hastings, he smiled and bowed. Hastings walked over to
the marble, laughing.
"Why, Clifford," he said, "I didn't recognize you."
"It's my moustache," sighed the other. "I sacrificed it to humour a whim
of--of--a friend. What do you think of my dog?"
"Then he is yours?" cried Hastings.
"Of course. It's a pleasant change for him, this playing tag with
policemen, but he is known now and I'll have to stop it. He's gone home.
He always does when the gardeners take a hand. It's a pity; he's fond of
rolling on lawns." Then they chatted for a moment of Hastings' prospects,
and Clifford politely offered to stand his sponsor at the studio.
"You see, old tabby, I mean Dr. Byram, told me about you before I met
you," explained Clifford, "and Elliott and I will be glad to do anything
we can." Then looking at his watch again, he muttered, "I have just ten
minutes to catch the Versailles train; au revoir," and started to go, but
catching sight of a girl advancing by the fountain, took off his hat with
a confused smile.
"Why are you not at Versailles?" she said, with an almost imperceptible
acknowledgment of Hastings' presence.
"I--I'm going," murmured Clifford.
For a moment they faced each other, and then Clifford, very red,
stammered, "With your permission I have the honour of presenting to you my
friend, Monsieur Hastings."
Hastings bowed low. She smiled very sweetly, but there was something of
malice in the quiet inclination of her small Parisienne head.
"I could have wished," she said, "that Monsieur Clifford might spare me
more time when he brings with him so charming an American."
"Must--must I go, Valentine?" began Clifford.
"Certainly," she replied.
Clifford took his leave with very bad grace, wincing, when she added, "And
give my dearest love to Cecile!" As he disappeared in the rue d'Assas, the
girl turned as if to go, but then suddenly remembering Hastings, looked at
him and shook her head.
"Monsieur Clifford is so perfectly harebrained," she smiled, "it is
embarrassing sometimes. You have heard, of course, all about his success
at the Salon?"
He looked puzzled and she noticed it.
"You have been to the Salon, of course?"
"Why, no," he answered, "I only arrived in Paris three days ago."
She seemed to pay little heed to his explanation, but continued: "Nobody
imagined he had the energy to do anything good, but on varnishing day the
Salon was astonished by the entrance of Monsieur Clifford, who strolled
about as bland as you please with an orchid in his buttonhole, and a
beautiful picture on the line."
She smiled to herself at the reminiscence, and looked at the fountain.
"Monsieur Bouguereau told me that Monsieur Julian was so astonished that
he only shook hands with Monsieur Clifford in a dazed manner, and actually
forgot to pat him on the back! Fancy," she continued with much merriment,
"fancy papa Julian forgetting to pat one on the back."
Hastings, wondering at her acquaintance with the great Bouguereau, looked
at her with respect. "May I ask," he said diffidently, "whether you are a
pupil of Bouguereau?"
"I?" she said in some surprise. Then she looked at him curiously. Was he
permitting himself the liberty of joking on such short acquaintance?
His pleasant serious face questioned hers.
"Tiens," she thought, "what a droll man!"
"You surely study art?" he said.
She leaned back on the crooked stick of her parasol, and looked at him.
"Why do you think so?"
"Because you speak as if you did."
"You are making fun of me," she said, "and it is not good taste."
She stopped, confused, as he coloured to the roots of his hair.
"How long have you been in Paris?" she said at length.
"Three days," he replied gravely.
"But--but--surely you are not a nouveau! You speak French too well!"
Then after a pause, "Really are you a nouveau?"
"I am," he said.
She sat down on the marble bench lately occupied by Clifford, and tilting
her parasol over her small head looked at him.
"I don't believe it."
He felt the compliment, and for a moment hesitated to declare himself one
of the despised. Then mustering up his courage, he told her how new and
green he was, and all with a frankness which made her blue eyes open very
wide and her lips part in the sweetest of smiles.
"You have never seen a studio?"
"Nor a model?"
"How funny," she said solemnly. Then they both laughed.
"And you," he said, "have seen studios?"
"And you know Bouguereau?"
"Yes, and Henner, and Constant and Laurens, and Puvis de Chavannes and
Dagnan and Courtois, and--and all the rest of them!"
"And yet you say you are not an artist."
"Pardon," she said gravely, "did I say I was not?"
"Won't you tell me?" he hesitated.
At first she looked at him, shaking her head and smiling, then of a sudden
her eyes fell and she began tracing figures with her parasol in the gravel
at her feet. Hastings had taken a place on the seat, and now, with his
elbows on his knees, sat watching the spray drifting above the fountain
jet. A small boy, dressed as a sailor, stood poking his yacht and crying,
"I won't go home! I won't go home!" His nurse raised her hands to Heaven.
"Just like a little American boy," thought Hastings, and a pang of
homesickness shot through him.
Presently the nurse captured the boat, and the small boy stood at bay.
"Monsieur Rene, when you decide to come here you may have your boat."
The boy backed away scowling.
"Give me my boat, I say," he cried, "and don't call me Rene, for my
name's Randall and you know it!"
"Hello!" said Hastings,--"Randall?--that's English."
"I am American," announced the boy in perfectly good English, turning to
look at Hastings, "and she's such a fool she calls me Rene because mamma
calls me Ranny--"
Here he dodged the exasperated nurse and took up his station behind
Hastings, who laughed, and catching him around the waist lifted him into
"One of my countrymen," he said to the girl beside him. He smiled while he
spoke, but there was a queer feeling in his throat.
"Don't you see the stars and stripes on my yacht?" demanded Randall. Sure
enough, the American colours hung limply under the nurse's arm.
"Oh," cried the girl, "he is charming," and impulsively stooped to kiss
him, but the infant Randall wriggled out of Hastings' arms, and his nurse
pounced upon him with an angry glance at the girl.
She reddened and then bit her lips as the nurse, with eyes still fixed on
her, dragged the child away and ostentatiously wiped his lips with her
Then she stole a look at Hastings and bit her lip again.
"What an ill-tempered woman!" he said. "In America, most nurses are
flattered when people kiss their children."
For an instant she tipped the parasol to hide her face, then closed it
with a snap and looked at him defiantly.
"Do you think it strange that she objected?"
"Why not?" he said in surprise.
Again she looked at him with quick searching eyes.
His eyes were clear and bright, and he smiled back, repeating, "Why not?"
"You _are_ droll," she murmured, bending her head.
But she made no answer, and sat silent, tracing curves and circles in the
dust with her parasol. After a while he said--"I am glad to see that young
people have so much liberty here. I understood that the French were not at
all like us. You know in America--or at least where I live in Milbrook,
girls have every liberty,--go out alone and receive their friends alone,
and I was afraid I should miss it here. But I see how it is now, and I am
glad I was mistaken."
She raised her eyes to his and kept them there.
He continued pleasantly--"Since I have sat here I have seen a lot of
pretty girls walking alone on the terrace there,--and then _you_ are alone
too. Tell me, for I do not know French customs,--do you have the liberty
of going to the theatre without a chaperone?"
For a long time she studied his face, and then with a trembling smile
said, "Why do you ask me?"
"Because you must know, of course," he said gaily.
"Yes," she replied indifferently, "I know."
He waited for an answer, but getting none, decided that perhaps she had
"I hope you don't think I mean to presume on our short acquaintance," he
began,--"in fact it is very odd but I don't know your name. When Mr.
Clifford presented me he only mentioned mine. Is that the custom in
"It is the custom in the Latin Quarter," she said with a queer light in
her eyes. Then suddenly she began talking almost feverishly.
"You must know, Monsieur Hastings, that we are all _un peu sans gene_ here
in the Latin Quarter. We are very Bohemian, and etiquette and ceremony are
out of place. It was for that Monsieur Clifford presented you to me with
small ceremony, and left us together with less,--only for that, and I am
his friend, and I have many friends in the Latin Quarter, and we all know
each other very well--and I am not studying art, but--but--"
"But what?" he said, bewildered.
"I shall not tell you,--it is a secret," she said with an uncertain smile.
On both cheeks a pink spot was burning, and her eyes were very bright.
Then in a moment her face fell. "Do you know Monsieur Clifford very
After a while she turned to him, grave and a little pale.
"My name is Valentine--Valentine Tissot. Might--might I ask a service of
you on such very short acquaintance?"
"Oh," he cried, "I should be honoured."
"It is only this," she said gently, "it is not much. Promise me not to
speak to Monsieur Clifford about me. Promise me that you will speak to no
one about me."
"I promise," he said, greatly puzzled.
She laughed nervously. "I wish to remain a mystery. It is a caprice."
"But," he began, "I had wished, I had hoped that you might give Monsieur
Clifford permission to bring me, to present me at your house."
"My--my house!" she repeated.
"I mean, where you live, in fact, to present me to your family."
The change in the girl's face shocked him.
"I beg your pardon," he cried, "I have hurt you."
And as quick as a flash she understood him because she was a woman.
"My parents are dead," she said.
Presently he began again, very gently.
"Would it displease you if I beg you to receive me? It is the custom?"
"I cannot," she answered. Then glancing up at him, "I am sorry; I should
like to; but believe me. I cannot."
He bowed seriously and looked vaguely uneasy.
"It isn't because I don't wish to. I--I like you; you are very kind to
"Kind?" he cried, surprised and puzzled.
"I like you," she said slowly, "and we will see each other sometimes if
"At friends' houses."
"No, not at friends' houses."
"Here," she said with defiant eyes.
"Why," he cried, "in Paris you are much more liberal in your views than we
She looked at him curiously.
"Yes, we are very Bohemian."
"I think it is charming," he declared.
"You see, we shall be in the best of society," she ventured timidly, with
a pretty gesture toward the statues of the dead queens, ranged in stately
ranks above the terrace.
He looked at her, delighted, and she brightened at the success of her
innocent little pleasantry.
"Indeed," she smiled, "I shall be well chaperoned, because you see we are
under the protection of the gods themselves; look, there are Apollo, and
Juno, and Venus, on their pedestals," counting them on her small gloved
fingers, "and Ceres, Hercules, and--but I can't make out--"
Hastings turned to look up at the winged god under whose shadow they were
"Why, it's Love," he said.
"There is a nouveau here," drawled Laffat, leaning around his easel and
addressing his friend Bowles, "there is a nouveau here who is so tender
and green and appetizing that Heaven help him if he should fall into a
"Hayseed?" inquired Bowles, plastering in a background with a broken
palette-knife and squinting at the effect with approval.
"Yes, Squeedunk or Oshkosh, and how he ever grew up among the daisies and
escaped the cows, Heaven alone knows!"
Bowles rubbed his thumb across the outlines of his study to "throw in a
little atmosphere," as he said, glared at the model, pulled at his pipe
and finding it out struck a match on his neighbour's back to relight it.
"His name," continued Laffat, hurling a bit of bread at the hat-rack, "his
name is Hastings. He _is_ a berry. He knows no more about the world,"--and
here Mr. Laffat's face spoke volumes for his own knowledge of that
planet,--"than a maiden cat on its first moonlight stroll."
Bowles now having succeeded in lighting his pipe, repeated the thumb touch
on the other edge of the study and said, "Ah!"
"Yes," continued his friend, "and would you imagine it, he seems to think
that everything here goes on as it does in his d----d little backwoods
ranch at home; talks about the pretty girls who walk alone in the street;
says how sensible it is; and how French parents are misrepresented in
America; says that for his part he finds French girls,--and he confessed
to only knowing one,--as jolly as American girls. I tried to set him
right, tried to give him a pointer as to what sort of ladies walk about
alone or with students, and he was either too stupid or too innocent to
catch on. Then I gave it to him straight, and he said I was a vile-minded
fool and marched off."
"Did you assist him with your shoe?" inquired Bowles, languidly
"He called you a vile-minded fool."
"He was correct," said Clifford from his easel in front.
"What--what do you mean?" demanded Laffat, turning red.
"_That_," replied Clifford.
"Who spoke to you? Is this your business?" sneered Bowles, but nearly lost
his balance as Clifford swung about and eyed him.
"Yes," he said slowly, "it's my business."
No one spoke for some time.
Then Clifford sang out, "I say, Hastings!"
And when Hastings left his easel and came around, he nodded toward the
"This man has been disagreeable to you, and I want to tell you that any
time you feel inclined to kick him, why, I will hold the other creature."
Hastings, embarrassed, said, "Why no, I don't agree with his ideas,
Clifford said "Naturally," and slipping his arm through Hastings',
strolled about with him, and introduced him to several of his own friends,
at which all the nouveaux opened their eyes with envy, and the studio were
given to understand that Hastings, although prepared to do menial work as
the latest nouveau, was already within the charmed circle of the old,
respected and feared, the truly great.
The rest finished, the model resumed his place, and work went on in a
chorus of songs and yells and every ear-splitting noise which the art
student utters when studying the beautiful.
Five o'clock struck,--the model yawned, stretched and climbed into his
trousers, and the noisy contents of six studios crowded through the hall
and down into the street. Ten minutes later, Hastings found himself on top
of a Montrouge tram, and shortly afterward was joined by Clifford.
They climbed down at the rue Gay Lussac.
"I always stop here," observed Clifford, "I like the walk through the
"By the way," said Hastings, "how can I call on you when I don't know
where you live?"
"Why, I live opposite you."
"What--the studio in the garden where the almond trees are and the
"Exactly," said Clifford. "I'm with my friend Elliott."
Hastings thought of the description of the two American artists which he
had heard from Miss Susie Byng, and looked blank.
Clifford continued, "Perhaps you had better let me know when you think of
coming so,--so that I will be sure to--to be there," he ended rather
"I shouldn't care to meet any of your model friends there," said Hastings,
smiling. "You know--my ideas are rather straitlaced,--I suppose you would
say, Puritanical. I shouldn't enjoy it and wouldn't know how to behave."
"Oh, I understand," said Clifford, but added with great cordiality,--"I'm
sure we'll be friends although you may not approve of me and my set, but
you will like Severn and Selby because--because, well, they are like
yourself, old chap."
After a moment he continued, "There is something I want to speak about.
You see, when I introduced you, last week, in the Luxembourg, to
"Not a word!" cried Hastings, smiling; "you must not tell me a word of
"No--not a word!" he said gaily. "I insist,--promise me upon your honour
you will not speak of her until I give you permission; promise!"
"I promise," said Clifford, amazed.
"She is a charming girl,--we had such a delightful chat after you left,
and I thank you for presenting me, but not another word about her until I
give you permission."
"Oh," murmured Clifford.
"Remember your promise," he smiled, as he turned into his gateway.
Clifford strolled across the street and, traversing the ivy-covered alley,
entered his garden.
He felt for his studio key, muttering, "I wonder--I wonder,--but of course
He entered the hallway, and fitting the key into the door, stood staring
at the two cards tacked over the panels.
RICHARD OSBORNE ELLIOTT
"Why the devil doesn't he want me to speak of her?"
He opened the door, and, discouraging the caresses of two brindle
bull-dogs, sank down on the sofa.
Elliott sat smoking and sketching with a piece of charcoal by the window.
"Hello," he said without looking around.
Clifford gazed absently at the back of his head, murmuring, "I'm afraid,
I'm afraid that man is too innocent. I say, Elliott," he said, at last,
"Hastings,--you know the chap that old Tabby Byram came around here to
tell us about--the day you had to hide Colette in the armoire--"
"Yes, what's up?"
"Oh, nothing. He's a brick."
"Yes," said Elliott, without enthusiasm.
"Don't you think so?" demanded Clifford.
"Why yes, but he is going to have a tough time when some of his illusions
"More shame to those who dispel 'em!"
"Yes,--wait until he comes to pay his call on us, unexpectedly, of
Clifford looked virtuous and lighted a cigar.
"I was just going to say," he observed, "that I have asked him not to come
without letting us know, so I can postpone any orgie you may have
"Ah!" cried Elliott indignantly, "I suppose you put it to him in that
"Not exactly," grinned Clifford. Then more seriously, "I don't want
anything to occur here to bother him. He's a brick, and it's a pity we
can't be more like him."
"I am," observed Elliott complacently, "only living with you--"
"Listen!" cried the other. "I have managed to put my foot in it in great
style. Do you know what I've done? Well--the first time I met him in the
street,--or rather, it was in the Luxembourg, I introduced him to
"Did he object?"
"Believe me," said Clifford, solemnly, "this rustic Hastings has no more
idea that Valentine is--is--in fact is Valentine, than he has that he
himself is a beautiful example of moral decency in a Quarter where morals
are as rare as elephants. I heard enough in a conversation between that
blackguard Loffat and the little immoral eruption, Bowles, to open my
eyes. I tell you Hastings is a trump! He's a healthy, clean-minded young
fellow, bred in a small country village, brought up with the idea that
saloons are way-stations to hell--and as for women--"
"Well?" demanded Elliott
"Well," said Clifford, "his idea of the dangerous woman is probably a
"Probably," replied the other.
"He's a trump!" said Clifford, "and if he swears the world is as good and
pure as his own heart, I'll swear he's right."
Elliott rubbed his charcoal on his file to get a point and turned to his
sketch saying, "He will never hear any pessimism from Richard Osborne E."
"He's a lesson to me," said Clifford. Then he unfolded a small perfumed
note, written on rose-coloured paper, which had been lying on the table
He read it, smiled, whistled a bar or two from "Miss Helyett," and sat
down to answer it on his best cream-laid note-paper. When it was written
and sealed, he picked up his stick and marched up and down the studio two
or three times, whistling.
"Going out?" inquired the other, without turning.
"Yes," he said, but lingered a moment over Elliott's shoulder, watching
him pick out the lights in his sketch with a bit of bread.
"To-morrow is Sunday," he observed after a moment's silence.
"Well?" inquired Elliott.
"Have you seen Colette?"
"No, I will to-night. She and Rowden and Jacqueline are coming to
Boulant's. I suppose you and, Cecile will be there?"
"Well, no," replied Clifford. "Cecile dines at home to-night, and I--I had
an idea of going to Mignon's."
Elliott looked at him with disapproval.
"You can make all the arrangements for La Roche without me," he continued,
avoiding Elliott's eyes.
"What are you up to now?"
"Nothing," protested Clifford.
"Don't tell me," replied his chum, with scorn; "fellows don't rush off to
Mignon's when the set dine at Boulant's. Who is it now?--but no, I won't
ask that,--what's the use!" Then he lifted up his voice in complaint and
beat upon the table with his pipe. "What's the use of ever trying to keep
track of you? What will Cecile say,--oh, yes, what will she say? It's a
pity you can't be constant two months, yes, by Jove! and the Quarter is
indulgent, but you abuse its good nature and mine too!"
Presently he arose, and jamming his hat on his head, marched to the door.
"Heaven alone knows why any one puts up with your antics, but they all do
and so do I. If I were Cecile or any of the other pretty fools after whom
you have toddled and will, in all human probabilities, continue to toddle,
I say, if I were Cecile I'd spank you! Now I'm going to Boulant's, and as
usual I shall make excuses for you and arrange the affair, and I don't
care a continental where you are going, but, by the skull of the studio
skeleton! if you don't turn up to-morrow with your sketching-kit under one
arm and Cecile under the other,--if you don't turn up in good shape, I'm
done with you, and the rest can think what they please. Good-night."
Clifford said good-night with as pleasant a smile as he could muster, and
then sat down with his eyes on the door. He took out his watch and gave
Elliott ten minutes to vanish, then rang the concierge's call, murmuring,
"Oh dear, oh dear, why the devil do I do it?"
"Alfred," he said, as that gimlet-eyed person answered the call, "make
yourself clean and proper, Alfred, and replace your sabots with a pair of
shoes. Then put on your best hat and take this letter to the big white
house in the Rue de Dragon. There is no answer, _mon petit_ Alfred."
The concierge departed with a snort in which unwillingness for the errand
and affection for M. Clifford were blended. Then with great care the young
fellow arrayed himself in all the beauties of his and Elliott's wardrobe.
He took his time about it, and occasionally interrupted his toilet to play
his banjo or make pleasing diversion for the bull-dogs by gambling about
on all fours. "I've got two hours before me," he thought, and borrowed a
pair of Elliott's silken foot-gear, with which he and the dogs played ball
until he decided to put them on. Then he lighted a cigarette and inspected
his dress-coat. When he had emptied it of four handkerchiefs, a fan, and a
pair of crumpled gloves as long as his arm, he decided it was not suited
to add _eclat_ to his charms and cast about in his mind for a substitute.
Elliott was too thin, and, anyway, his coats were now under lock and key.
Rowden probably was as badly off as himself. Hastings! Hastings was the
man! But when he threw on a smoking-jacket and sauntered over to Hastings'
house, he was informed that he had been gone over an hour.
"Now, where in the name of all that's reasonable could he have gone!"
muttered Clifford, looking down the street.
The maid didn't know, so he bestowed upon her a fascinating smile and
lounged back to the studio.
Hastings was not far away. The Luxembourg is within five minutes' walk of
the rue Notre Dame des Champs, and there he sat under the shadow of a
winged god, and there he had sat for an hour, poking holes in the dust and
watching the steps which lead from the northern terrace to the fountain.
The sun hung, a purple globe, above the misty hills of Meudon. Long
streamers of clouds touched with rose swept low on the western sky, and
the dome of the distant Invalides burned like an opal through the haze.
Behind the Palace the smoke from a high chimney mounted straight into the
air, purple until it crossed the sun, where it changed to a bar of
smouldering fire. High above the darkening foliage of the chestnuts the
twin towers of St. Sulpice rose, an ever-deepening silhouette.
A sleepy blackbird was carolling in some near thicket, and pigeons passed
and repassed with the whisper of soft winds in their wings. The light on
the Palace windows had died away, and the dome of the Pantheon swam aglow
above the northern terrace, a fiery Valhalla in the sky; while below in
grim array, along the terrace ranged, the marble ranks of queens looked
out into the west.
From the end of the long walk by the northern facade of the Palace came
the noise of omnibuses and the cries of the street. Hastings looked at the
Palace clock. Six, and as his own watch agreed with it, he fell to poking
holes in the gravel again. A constant stream of people passed between the
Odeon and the fountain. Priests in black, with silver-buckled shoes; line
soldiers, slouchy and rakish; neat girls without hats bearing milliners'
boxes, students with black portfolios and high hats, students with berets
and big canes, nervous, quick-stepping officers, symphonies in turquoise
and silver; ponderous jangling cavalrymen all over dust, pastry cooks'
boys skipping along with utter disregard for the safety of the basket
balanced on the impish head, and then the lean outcast, the shambling
Paris tramp, slouching with shoulders bent and little eye furtively
scanning the ground for smokers' refuse;--all these moved in a steady
stream across the fountain circle and out into the city by the Odeon,
whose long arcades were now beginning to flicker with gas-jets. The
melancholy bells of St Sulpice struck the hour and the clock-tower of the
Palace lighted up. Then hurried steps sounded across the gravel and
Hastings raised his head.
"How late you are," he said, but his voice was hoarse and only his flushed
face told how long had seemed the waiting.
She said, "I was kept--indeed, I was so much annoyed--and--and I may only
stay a moment."
She sat down beside him, casting a furtive glance over her shoulder at the
god upon his pedestal.
"What a nuisance, that intruding cupid still there?"
"Wings and arrows too," said Hastings, unheeding her motion to be seated.
"Wings," she murmured, "oh, yes--to fly away with when he's tired of his
play. Of course it was a man who conceived the idea of wings, otherwise
Cupid would have been insupportable."
"Do you think so?"
"_Ma foi_, it's what men think."
"Oh," she said, with a toss of her small head, "I really forget what we
were speaking of."
"We were speaking of love," said Hastings.
"_I_ was not," said the girl. Then looking up at the marble god, "I don't
care for this one at all. I don't believe he knows how to shoot his
arrows--no, indeed, he is a coward;--he creeps up like an assassin in the
twilight. I don't approve of cowardice," she announced, and turned her
back on the statue.
"I think," said Hastings quietly, "that he does shoot fairly--yes, and
even gives one warning."
"Is it your experience, Monsieur Hastings?"
He looked straight into her eyes and said, "He is warning me."
"Heed the warning then," she cried, with a nervous laugh. As she spoke she
stripped off her gloves, and then carefully proceeded to draw them on
again. When this was accomplished she glanced at the Palace clock, saying,
"Oh dear, how late it is!" furled her umbrella, then unfurled it, and
finally looked at him.
"No," he said, "I shall not heed his warning."
"Oh dear," she sighed again, "still talking about that tiresome statue!"
Then stealing a glance at his face, "I suppose--I suppose you are in
"I don't know," he muttered, "I suppose I am."
She raised her head with a quick gesture. "You seem delighted at the
idea," she said, but bit her lip and trembled as his eyes met hers. Then
sudden fear came over her and she sprang up, staring into the gathering
"Are you cold?" he said.
But she only answered, "Oh dear, oh dear, it is late--so late! I must
She gave him her gloved hand a moment and then withdrew it with a start.
"What is it?" he insisted. "Are you frightened?"
She looked at him strangely.
"No--no--not frightened,--you are very good to me--"
"By Jove!" he burst out, "what do you mean by saying I'm good to you?
That's at least the third time, and I don't understand!"
The sound of a drum from the guard-house at the palace cut him short.
"Listen," she whispered, "they are going to close. It's late, oh, so
The rolling of the drum came nearer and nearer, and then the silhouette of
the drummer cut the sky above the eastern terrace. The fading light
lingered a moment on his belt and bayonet, then he passed into the
shadows, drumming the echoes awake. The roll became fainter along the
eastern terrace, then grew and grew and rattled with increasing sharpness
when he passed the avenue by the bronze lion and turned down the western
terrace walk. Louder and louder the drum sounded, and the echoes struck
back the notes from the grey palace wall; and now the drummer loomed up
before them--his red trousers a dull spot in the gathering gloom, the
brass of his drum and bayonet touched with a pale spark, his epaulettes
tossing on his shoulders. He passed leaving the crash of the drum in their
ears, and far into the alley of trees they saw his little tin cup shining
on his haversack. Then the sentinels began the monotonous cry: "On ferme!
on ferme!" and the bugle blew from the barracks in the rue de Tournon.
"On ferme! on ferme!"
"Good-night," she whispered, "I must return alone to-night."
He watched her until she reached the northern terrace, and then sat down
on the marble seat until a hand on his shoulder and a glimmer of bayonets
warned him away.
She passed on through the grove, and turning into the rue de Medici,
traversed it to the Boulevard. At the corner she bought a bunch of violets
and walked on along the Boulevard to the rue des Ecoles. A cab was drawn
up before Boulant's, and a pretty girl aided by Elliott jumped out.
"Valentine!" cried the girl, "come with us!"
"I can't," she said, stopping a moment--"I have a rendezvous at Mignon's."
"Not Victor?" cried the girl, laughing, but she passed with a little
shiver, nodding good-night, then turning into the Boulevard St. Germain,
she walked a tittle faster to escape a gay party sitting before the Cafe
Cluny who called to her to join them. At the door of the Restaurant Mignon
stood a coal-black negro in buttons. He took off his peaked cap as she
mounted the carpeted stairs.
"Send Eugene to me," she said at the office, and passing through the
hallway to the right of the dining-room stopped before a row of panelled
doors. A waiter passed and she repeated her demand for Eugene, who
presently appeared, noiselessly skipping, and bowed murmuring, "Madame."
"Who is here?"
"No one in the cabinets, madame; in the half Madame Madelon and Monsieur
Gay, Monsieur de Clamart, Monsieur Clisson, Madame Marie and their set."
Then he looked around and bowing again murmured, "Monsieur awaits madame
since half an hour," and he knocked at one of the panelled doors bearing
the number six.
Clifford opened the door and the girl entered.
The garcon bowed her in, and whispering, "Will Monsieur have the goodness
to ring?" vanished.
He helped her off with her jacket and took her hat and umbrella. When she
was seated at the little table with Clifford opposite she smiled and
leaned forward on both elbows looking him in the face.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded.
"Waiting," he replied, in accents of adoration.
For an instant she turned and examined herself in the glass. The wide blue
eyes, the curling hair, the straight nose and short curled lip flashed in
the mirror an instant only, and then its depths reflected her pretty neck
and back. "Thus do I turn my back on vanity," she said, and then leaning
forward again, "What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for you," repeated Clifford, slightly troubled.
"Now don't, Valentine--"
"Do you know," she said calmly, "I dislike your conduct?"
He was a little disconcerted, and rang for Eugene to cover his confusion.
The soup was bisque, and the wine Pommery, and the courses followed each
other with the usual regularity until Eugene brought coffee, and there was
nothing left on the table but a small silver lamp.
"Valentine," said Clifford, after having obtained permission to smoke, "is
it the Vaudeville or the Eldorado--or both, or the Nouveau Cirque, or--"
"It is here," said Valentine.
"Well," he said, greatly flattered, "I'm afraid I couldn't amuse you--"
"Oh, yes, you are funnier than the Eldorado."
"Now see here, don't guy me, Valentine. You always do, and, and,--you know
what they say,--a good laugh kills--"
"Er--er--love and all that."
She laughed until her eyes were moist with tears. "Tiens," she cried, "he
is dead, then!"
Clifford eyed her with growing alarm.
"Do you know why I came?" she said.
"No," he replied uneasily, "I don't."
"How long have you made love to me?"
"Well," he admitted, somewhat startled,--"I should say,--for about a
"It is a year, I think. Are you not tired?"
He did not answer.
"Don't you know that I like you too well to--to ever fall in love with
you?" she said. "Don't you know that we are too good comrades,--too old
friends for that? And were we not,--do you think that I do not know your
history, Monsieur Clifford?"
"Don't be--don't be so sarcastic," he urged; "don't be unkind, Valentine."
"I'm not. I'm kind. I'm very kind,--to you and to Cecile."
"Cecile is tired of me."
"I hope she is," said the girl, "for she deserves a better fate. Tiens, do
you know your reputation in the Quarter? Of the inconstant, the most
inconstant,--utterly incorrigible and no more serious than a gnat on a
summer night. Poor Cecile!"
Clifford looked so uncomfortable that she spoke more kindly.
"I like you. You know that. Everybody does. You are a spoiled child here.
Everything is permitted you and every one makes allowance, but every one
cannot be a victim to caprice."
"Caprice!" he cried. "By Jove, if the girls of the Latin Quarter are not
"Never mind,--never mind about that! You must not sit in judgment--you of
all men. Why are you here to-night? Oh," she cried, "I will tell you why!
Monsieur receives a little note; he sends a little answer; he dresses in
his conquering raiment--"
"I don't," said Clifford, very red.
"You do, and it becomes you," she retorted with a faint smile. Then again,
very quietly, "I am in your power, but I know I am in the power of a
friend. I have come to acknowledge it to you here,--and it is because of
that that I am here to beg of you--a--a favour."
Clifford opened his eyes, but said nothing.
"I am in--great distress of mind. It is Monsieur Hastings."
"Well?" said Clifford, in some astonishment.
"I want to ask you," she continued in a low voice, "I want to ask you
to--to--in case you should speak of me before him,--not to say,--not to
"I shall not speak of you to him," he said quietly.
"Can--can you prevent others?"
"I might if I was present. May I ask why?"
"That is not fair," she murmured; "you know how--how he considers me,--as
he considers every woman. You know how different he is from you and the
rest. I have never seen a man,--such a man as Monsieur Hastings."
He let his cigarette go out unnoticed.
"I am almost afraid of him--afraid he should know--what we all are in the
Quarter. Oh, I do not wish him to know! I do not wish him to--to turn from
me--to cease from speaking to me as he does! You--you and the rest cannot
know what it has been to me. I could not believe him,--I could not believe
he was so good and--and noble. I do not wish him to know--so soon. He will
find out--sooner or later, he will find out for himself, and then he will
turn away from me. Why!" she cried passionately, "why should he turn from
me and not from _you_?"
Clifford, much embarrassed, eyed his cigarette.
The girl rose, very white. "He is your friend--you have a right to warn
"He is my friend," he said at length.
They looked at each other in silence.
Then she cried, "By all that I hold to me most sacred, you need not warn
"I shall trust your word," he said pleasantly.
The month passed quickly for Hastings, and left few definite impressions
after it. It did leave some, however. One was a painful impression of
meeting Mr. Bladen on the Boulevard des Capucines in company with a very
pronounced young person whose laugh dismayed him, and when at last he
escaped from the cafe where Mr. Bladen had hauled him to join them in a
_bock_ he felt as if the whole boulevard was looking at him, and judging
him by his company. Later, an instinctive conviction regarding the young
person with Mr. Bladen sent the hot blood into his cheek, and he returned
to the pension in such a miserable state of mind that Miss Byng was
alarmed and advised him to conquer his homesickness at once.
Another impression was equally vivid. One Saturday morning, feeling
lonely, his wanderings about the city brought him to the Gare St. Lazare.
It was early for breakfast, but he entered the Hotel Terminus and took a
table near the window. As he wheeled about to give his order, a man
passing rapidly along the aisle collided with his head, and looking up to
receive the expected apology, he was met instead by a slap on the shoulder
and a hearty, "What the deuce are you doing here, old chap?" It was
Rowden, who seized him and told him to come along. So, mildly protesting,
he was ushered into a private dining-room where Clifford, rather red,
jumped up from the table and welcomed him with a startled air which was
softened by the unaffected glee of Rowden and the extreme courtesy of
Elliott. The latter presented him to three bewitching girls who welcomed
him so charmingly and seconded Rowden in his demand that Hastings should
make one of the party, that he consented at once. While Elliott briefly
outlined the projected excursion to La Roche, Hastings delightedly ate his
omelet, and returned the smiles of encouragement from Cecile and Colette
and Jacqueline. Meantime Clifford in a bland whisper was telling Rowden
what an ass he was. Poor Rowden looked miserable until Elliott, divining
how affairs were turning, frowned on Clifford and found a moment to let
Rowden know that they were all going to make the best of it.
"You shut up," he observed to Clifford, "it's fate, and that settles it."
"It's Rowden, and that settles it," murmured Clifford, concealing a grin.
For after all he was not Hastings' wet nurse. So it came about that the
train which left the Gare St. Lazare at 9.15 a.m. stopped a moment in its
career towards Havre and deposited at the red-roofed station of La Roche a
merry party, armed with sunshades, trout-rods, and one cane, carried by
the non-combatant, Hastings. Then, when they had established their camp in
a grove of sycamores which bordered the little river Ept, Clifford, the
acknowledged master of all that pertained to sportsmanship, took command.
"You, Rowden," he said, "divide your flies with Elliott and keep an eye on
him or else he'll be trying to put on a float and sinker. Prevent him by
force from grubbing about for worms."
Elliott protested, but was forced to smile in the general laugh.
"You make me ill," he asserted; "do you think this is my first trout?"
"I shall be delighted to see your first trout," said Clifford, and dodging
a fly hook, hurled with intent to hit, proceeded to sort and equip three
slender rods destined to bring joy and fish to Cecil, Colette, and
Jacqueline. With perfect gravity he ornamented each line with four split
shot, a small hook, and a brilliant quill float.
"_I_ shall never touch the worms," announced Cecile with a shudder.
Jacqueline and Colette hastened to sustain her, and Hastings pleasantly
offered to act in the capacity of general baiter and taker-off of fish.
But Cecile, doubtless fascinated by the gaudy flies in Clifford's book,
decided to accept lessons from him in the true art, and presently
disappeared up the Ept with Clifford in tow.
Elliott looked doubtfully at Colette.
"I prefer gudgeons," said that damsel with decision, "and you and Monsieur
Rowden may go away when you please; may they not, Jacqueline?"
"Certainly," responded Jacqueline.
Elliott, undecided, examined his rod and reel.
"You've got your reel on wrong side up," observed Rowden.
Elliott wavered, and stole a glance at Colette.
"I--I--have almost decided to--er--not to flip the flies about just now,"
he began. "There's the pole that Cecile left--"
"Don't call it a pole," corrected Rowden.
"_Rod_, then," continued Elliott, and started off in the wake of the two
girls, but was promptly collared by Rowden.
"No, you don't! Fancy a man fishing with a float and sinker when he has a
fly rod in his hand! You come along!"
Where the placid little Ept flows down between its thickets to the Seine,
a grassy bank shadows the haunt of the gudgeon, and on this bank sat
Colette and Jacqueline and chattered and laughed and watched the swerving
of the scarlet quills, while Hastings, his hat over his eyes, his head on
a bank of moss, listened to their soft voices and gallantly unhooked the
small and indignant gudgeon when a flash of a rod and a half-suppressed
scream announced a catch. The sunlight filtered through the leafy thickets
awaking to song the forest birds. Magpies in spotless black and white
flirted past, alighting near by with a hop and bound and twitch of the
tail. Blue and white jays with rosy breasts shrieked through the trees,
and a low-sailing hawk wheeled among the fields of ripening wheat, putting
to flight flocks of twittering hedge birds.
Across the Seine a gull dropped on the water like a plume. The air was
pure and still. Scarcely a leaf moved. Sounds from a distant farm came
faintly, the shrill cock-crow and dull baying. Now and then a steam-tug
with big raking smoke-pipe, bearing the name "Guepe 27," ploughed up the
river dragging its interminable train of barges, or a sailboat dropped
down with the current toward sleepy Rouen.
A faint fresh odour of earth and water hung in the air, and through the
sunlight, orange-tipped butterflies danced above the marsh grass, soft
velvety butterflies flapped through the mossy woods.
Hastings was thinking of Valentine. It was two o'clock when Elliott
strolled back, and frankly admitting that he had eluded Rowden, sat down
beside Colette and prepared to doze with satisfaction.
"Where are your trout?" said Colette severely.
"They still live," murmured Elliott, and went fast asleep.
Rowden returned shortly after, and casting a scornful glance at the
slumbering one, displayed three crimson-flecked trout.
"And that," smiled Hastings lazily, "that is the holy end to which the
faithful plod,--the slaughter of these small fish with a bit of silk and
Rowden disdained to answer him. Colette caught another gudgeon and awoke
Elliott, who protested and gazed about for the lunch baskets, as Clifford
and Cecile came up demanding instant refreshment. Cecile's skirts were
soaked, and her gloves torn, but she was happy, and Clifford, dragging out
a two-pound trout, stood still to receive the applause of the company.
"Where the deuce did you get that?" demanded Elliott.
Cecile, wet and enthusiastic, recounted the battle, and then Clifford
eulogized her powers with the fly, and, in proof, produced from his creel
a defunct chub, which, he observed, just missed being a trout.
They were all very happy at luncheon, and Hastings was voted "charming."
He enjoyed it immensely,--only it seemed to him at moments that flirtation
went further in France than in Millbrook, Connecticut, and he thought that
Cecile might be a little less enthusiastic about Clifford, that perhaps it
would be quite as well if Jacqueline sat further away from Rowden, and
that possibly Colette could have, for a moment at least, taken her eyes
from Elliott's face. Still he enjoyed it--except when his thoughts drifted
to Valentine, and then he felt that he was very far away from her. La
Roche is at least an hour and a half from Paris. It is also true that he
felt a happiness, a quick heart-beat when, at eight o'clock that night the
train which bore them from La Roche rolled into the Gare St. Lazare and he
was once more in the city of Valentine.
"Good-night," they said, pressing around him. "You must come with us next
He promised, and watched them, two by two, drift into the darkening city,
and stood so long that, when again he raised his eyes, the vast Boulevard
was twinkling with gas-jets through which the electric lights stared like
It was with another quick heart-beat that he awoke next morning, for his
first thought was of Valentine.
The sun already gilded the towers of Notre Dame, the clatter of workmen's
sabots awoke sharp echoes in the street below, and across the way a
blackbird in a pink almond tree was going into an ecstasy of trills.
He determined to awake Clifford for a brisk walk in the country, hoping
later to beguile that gentleman into the American church for his soul's
sake. He found Alfred the gimlet-eyed washing the asphalt walk which led
to the studio.
"Monsieur Elliott?" he replied to the perfunctory inquiry, "_je ne sais
"And Monsieur Clifford," began Hastings, somewhat astonished.
"Monsieur Clifford," said the concierge with fine irony, "will be pleased
to see you, as he retired early; in fact he has just come in."
Hastings hesitated while the concierge pronounced a fine eulogy on people
who never stayed out all night and then came battering at the lodge gate
during hours which even a gendarme held sacred to sleep. He also
discoursed eloquently upon the beauties of temperance, and took an
ostentatious draught from the fountain in the court.
"I do not think I will come in," said Hastings.
"Pardon, monsieur," growled the concierge, "perhaps it would be well to
see Monsieur Clifford. He possibly needs aid. Me he drives forth with
hair-brushes and boots. It is a mercy if he has not set fire to something
with his candle."
Hastings hesitated for an instant, but swallowing his dislike of such a
mission, walked slowly through the ivy-covered alley and across the inner
garden to the studio. He knocked. Perfect silence. Then he knocked again,
and this time something struck the door from within with a crash.
"That," said the concierge, "was a boot." He fitted his duplicate key into
the lock and ushered Hastings in. Clifford, in disordered evening dress,
sat on the rug in the middle of the room. He held in his hand a shoe, and
did not appear astonished to see Hastings.
"Good-morning, do you use Pears' soap?" he inquired with a vague wave of
his hand and a vaguer smile.
Hastings' heart sank. "For Heaven's sake," he said, "Clifford, go to bed."
"Not while that--that Alfred pokes his shaggy head in here an' I have a
Hastings blew out the candle, picked up Clifford's hat and cane, and said,
with an emotion he could not conceal, "This is terrible,
Clifford,--I--never knew you did this sort of thing."
"Well, I do," said Clifford.
"Where is Elliott?"
"Ole chap," returned Clifford, becoming maudlin, "Providence which
feeds--feeds--er--sparrows an' that sort of thing watcheth over the
"Where is Elliott?"
But Clifford only wagged his head and waved his arm about. "He's out
there,--somewhere about." Then suddenly feeling a desire to see his
missing chum, lifted up his voice and howled for him.
Hastings, thoroughly shocked, sat down on the lounge without a word.
Presently, after shedding several scalding tears, Clifford brightened up
and rose with great precaution.
"Ole chap," he observed, "do you want to see er--er miracle? Well, here
goes. I'm goin' to begin."
He paused, beaming at vacancy.
"Er miracle," he repeated.
Hastings supposed he was alluding to the miracle of his keeping his
balance, and said nothing.
"I'm goin' to bed," he announced, "poor ole Clifford's goin' to bed, an'
that's er miracle!"
And he did with a nice calculation of distance and equilibrium which would
have rung enthusiastic yells of applause from Elliott had he been there to
assist _en connaisseur_. But he was not. He had not yet reached the
studio. He was on his way, however, and smiled with magnificent
condescension on Hastings, who, half an hour later, found him reclining
upon a bench in the Luxembourg. He permitted himself to be aroused, dusted
and escorted to the gate. Here, however, he refused all further
assistance, and bestowing a patronizing bow upon Hastings, steered a
tolerably true course for the rue Vavin.
Hastings watched him out of sight, and then slowly retraced his steps
toward the fountain. At first he felt gloomy and depressed, but gradually
the clear air of the morning lifted the pressure from his heart, and he
sat down on the marble seat under the shadow of the winged god.
The air was fresh and sweet with perfume from the orange flowers.
Everywhere pigeons were bathing, dashing the water over their iris-hued
breasts, flashing in and out of the spray or nestling almost to the neck
along the polished basin. The sparrows, too, were abroad in force, soaking
their dust-coloured feathers in the limpid pool and chirping with might
and main. Under the sycamores which surrounded the duck-pond opposite the
fountain of Marie de Medici, the water-fowl cropped the herbage, or
waddled in rows down the bank to embark on some solemn aimless cruise.
Butterflies, somewhat lame from a chilly night's repose under the lilac
leaves, crawled over and over the white phlox, or took a rheumatic flight
toward some sun-warmed shrub. The bees were already busy among the
heliotrope, and one or two grey flies with brick-coloured eyes sat in a
spot of sunlight beside the marble seat, or chased each other about, only
to return again to the spot of sunshine and rub their fore-legs, exulting.
The sentries paced briskly before the painted boxes, pausing at times to
look toward the guard-house for their relief.
They came at last, with a shuffle of feet and click of bayonets, the word
was passed, the relief fell out, and away they went, crunch, crunch,
across the gravel.
A mellow chime floated from the clock-tower of the palace, the deep bell
of St. Sulpice echoed the stroke. Hastings sat dreaming in the shadow of
the god, and while he mused somebody came and sat down beside him. At
first he did not raise his head. It was only when she spoke that he sprang
"You! At this hour?"
"I was restless, I could not sleep." Then in a low, happy voice--"And
_you!_ at this hour?"
"I--I slept, but the sun awoke me."
"_I_ could not sleep," she said, and her eyes seemed, for a moment,
touched with an indefinable shadow. Then, smiling, "I am so glad--I seemed
to know you were coming. Don't laugh, I believe in dreams."
"Did you really dream of,--of my being here?"
"I think I was awake when I dreamed it," she admitted. Then for a time
they were mute, acknowledging by silence the happiness of being together.
And after all their silence was eloquent, for faint smiles, and glances
born of their thoughts, crossed and recrossed, until lips moved and words
were formed, which seemed almost superfluous. What they said was not very
profound. Perhaps the most valuable jewel that fell from Hastings' lips
bore direct reference to breakfast.
"I have not yet had my chocolate," she confessed, "but what a material man
"Valentine," he said impulsively, "I wish,--I do wish that you
would,--just for this once,--give me the whole day,--just for this once."
"Oh dear," she smiled, "not only material, but selfish!"
"Not selfish, hungry," he said, looking at her.
"A cannibal too; oh dear!"
"Will you, Valentine?"
"But my chocolate--"
"Take it with me."
"Together, at St. Cloud."
"But I can't--"
"Together,--all day,--all day long; will you, Valentine?"
She was silent.
"Only for this once."
Again that indefinable shadow fell across her eyes, and when it was gone
she sighed. "Yes,--together, only for this once."
"All day?" he said, doubting his happiness.
"All day," she smiled; "and oh, I am so hungry!"
He laughed, enchanted.
"What a material young lady it is."
On the Boulevard St. Michel there is a Cremerie painted white and blue
outside, and neat and clean as a whistle inside. The auburn-haired young
woman who speaks French like a native, and rejoices in the name of Murphy,
smiled at them as they entered, and tossing a fresh napkin over the zinc
_tete-a-tete_ table, whisked before them two cups of chocolate and a
basket full of crisp, fresh croissons.
The primrose-coloured pats of butter, each stamped with a shamrock in
relief, seemed saturated with the fragrance of Normandy pastures.
"How delicious!" they said in the same breath, and then laughed at the
"With but a single thought," he began.
"How absurd!" she cried with cheeks all rosy. "I'm thinking I'd like a
"So am I," he replied triumphant, "that proves it."
Then they had a quarrel; she accusing him of behaviour unworthy of a child
in arms, and he denying it, and bringing counter charges, until
Mademoiselle Murphy laughed in sympathy, and the last croisson was eaten
under a flag of truce. Then they rose, and she took his arm with a bright
nod to Mile. Murphy, who cried them a merry: "_Bonjour, madame! bonjour,
monsieur_!" and watched them hail a passing cab and drive away. "_Dieu!
qu'il est beau_," she sighed, adding after a moment, "Do they be married,
I dunno,--_ma foi ils ont bien l'air_."
The cab swung around the rue de Medici, turned into the rue de Vaugirard,
followed it to where it crosses the rue de Rennes, and taking that noisy
thoroughfare, drew up before the Gare Montparnasse. They were just in time
for a train and scampered up the stairway and out to the cars as the last
note from the starting-gong rang through the arched station. The guard
slammed the door of their compartment, a whistle sounded, answered by a
screech from the locomotive, and the long train glided from the station,
faster, faster, and sped out into the morning sunshine. The summer wind
blew in their faces from the open window, and sent the soft hair dancing
on the girl's forehead.
"We have the compartment to ourselves," said Hastings.
She leaned against the cushioned window-seat, her eyes bright and wide
open, her lips parted. The wind lifted her hat, and fluttered the ribbons
under her chin. With a quick movement she untied them, and, drawing a long
hat-pin from her hat, laid it down on the seat beside her. The train was
The colour surged in her cheeks, and, with each quick-drawn breath, her
breath rose and fell under the cluster of lilies at her throat. Trees,
houses, ponds, danced past, cut by a mist of telegraph poles.
"Faster! faster!" she cried.
His eyes never left her, but hers, wide open, and blue as the summer sky,
seemed fixed on something far ahead,--something which came no nearer, but
fled before them as they fled.
Was it the horizon, cut now by the grim fortress on the hill, now by the
cross of a country chapel? Was it the summer moon, ghost-like, slipping
through the vaguer blue above?
"Faster! faster!" she cried.
Her parted lips burned scarlet.
The car shook and shivered, and the fields streamed by like an emerald
torrent. He caught the excitement, and his faced glowed.
"Oh," she cried, and with an unconscious movement caught his hand, drawing
him to the window beside her. "Look! lean out with me!"
He only saw her lips move; her voice was drowned in the roar of a trestle,
but his hand closed in hers and he clung to the sill. The wind whistled in
their ears. "Not so far out, Valentine, take care!" he gasped.
Below, through the ties of the trestle, a broad river flashed into view
and out again, as the train thundered along a tunnel, and away once more
through the freshest of green fields. The wind roared about them. The girl
was leaning far out from the window, and he caught her by the waist,
crying, "Not too far!" but she only murmured, "Faster! faster! away out of
the city, out of the land, faster, faster! away out of the world!"
"What are you saying all to yourself?" he said, but his voice was broken,
and the wind whirled it back into his throat.
She heard him, and, turning from the window looked down at his arm about
her. Then she raised her eyes to his. The car shook and the windows
rattled. They were dashing through a forest now, and the sun swept the
dewy branches with running flashes of fire. He looked into her troubled
eyes; he drew her to him and kissed the half-parted lips, and she cried
out, a bitter, hopeless cry, "Not that--not that!"
But he held her close and strong, whispering words of honest love and
passion, and when she sobbed--"Not that--not that--I have promised! You
must--you must know--I am--not--worthy--" In the purity of his own heart
her words were, to him, meaningless then, meaningless for ever after.
Presently her voice ceased, and her head rested on his breast. He leaned
against the window, his ears swept by the furious wind, his heart in a
joyous tumult. The forest was passed, and the sun slipped from behind the
trees, flooding the earth again with brightness. She raised her eyes and
looked out into the world from the window. Then she began to speak, but
her voice was faint, and he bent his head close to hers and listened. "I
cannot turn from you; I am too weak. You were long ago my master--master
of my heart and soul. I have broken my word to one who trusted me, but I
have told you all;--what matters the rest?" He smiled at her innocence and
she worshipped his. She spoke again: "Take me or cast me away;--what
matters it? Now with a word you can kill me, and it might be easier to die
than to look upon happiness as great as mine."
He took her in his arms, "Hush, what are you saying? Look,--look out at
the sunlight, the meadows and the streams. We shall be very happy in so
bright a world."
She turned to the sunlight. From the window, the world below seemed very
fair to her.
Trembling with happiness, she sighed: "Is this the world? Then I have
never known it"
"Nor have I, God forgive me," he murmured.
Perhaps it was our gentle Lady of the Fields who forgave them both.
"For let Philosopher and Doctor preach
Of what they will and what they will not,--each
Is but one link in an eternal chain
That none can slip nor break nor over-reach."
"Crimson nor yellow roses nor
The savour of the mounting sea
Are worth the perfume I adore
That clings to thee.
The languid-headed lilies tire,
The changeless waters weary me;
I ache with passionate desire
Of thine and thee.
There are but these things in the world--
Thy mouth of fire,
Thy breasts, thy hands, thy hair upcurled
And my desire."
One morning at Julian's, a student said to Selby, "That is Foxhall
Clifford," pointing with his brushes at a young man who sat before an
easel, doing nothing.
Selby, shy and nervous, walked over and began: "My name is Selby,--I have
just arrived in Paris, and bring a letter of introduction--" His voice was
lost in the crash of a falling easel, the owner of which promptly
assaulted his neighbour, and for a time the noise of battle rolled through
the studios of MM. Boulanger and Lefebvre, presently subsiding into a
scuffle on the stairs outside. Selby, apprehensive as to his own reception
in the studio, looked at Clifford, who sat serenely watching the fight.
"It's a little noisy here," said Clifford, "but you will like the fellows
when you know them." His unaffected manner delighted Selby. Then with a
simplicity that won his heart, he presented him to half a dozen students
of as many nationalities. Some were cordial, all were polite. Even the
majestic creature who held the position of Massier, unbent enough to say:
"My friend, when a man speaks French as well as you do, and is also a
friend of Monsieur Clifford, he will have no trouble in this studio. You
expect, of course, to fill the stove until the next new man comes?"
"And you don't mind chaff?"
"No," replied Selby, who hated it.
Clifford, much amused, put on his hat, saying, "You must expect lots of it
Selby placed his own hat on his head and followed him to the door.
As they passed the model stand there was a furious cry of "Chapeau!
Chapeau!" and a student sprang from his easel menacing Selby, who reddened
but looked at Clifford.
"Take off your hat for them," said the latter, laughing.
A little embarrassed, he turned and saluted the studio.
"Et moi?" cried the model.
"You are charming," replied Selby, astonished at his own audacity, but the
studio rose as one man, shouting: "He has done well! he's all right!"
while the model, laughing, kissed her hand to him and cried: "A demain
beau jeune homme!"
All that week Selby worked at the studio unmolested. The French students
christened him "l'Enfant Prodigue," which was freely translated, "The
Prodigious Infant," "The Kid," "Kid Selby," and "Kidby." But the disease
soon ran its course from "Kidby" to "Kidney," and then naturally to
"Tidbits," where it was arrested by Clifford's authority and ultimately
relapsed to "Kid."
Wednesday came, and with it M. Boulanger. For three hours the students
writhed under his biting sarcasms,--among the others Clifford, who was
informed that he knew even less about a work of art than he did about the
art of work. Selby was more fortunate. The professor examined his drawing
in silence, looked at him sharply, and passed on with a non-committal
gesture. He presently departed arm in arm with Bouguereau, to the relief
of Clifford, who was then at liberty to jam his hat on his head and
The next day he did not appear, and Selby, who had counted on seeing him
at the studio, a thing which he learned later it was vanity to count on,
wandered back to the Latin Quarter alone.
Paris was still strange and new to him. He was vaguely troubled by its
splendour. No tender memories stirred his American bosom at the Place du
Chatelet, nor even by Notre Dame. The Palais de Justice with its clock and
turrets and stalking sentinels in blue and vermilion, the Place St. Michel
with its jumble of omnibuses and ugly water-spitting griffins, the hill of
the Boulevard St. Michel, the tooting trams, the policemen dawdling two by
two, and the table-lined terraces of the Cafe Vacehett were nothing to
him, as yet, nor did he even know, when he stepped from the stones of the
Place St. Michel to the asphalt of the Boulevard, that he had crossed the
frontier and entered the student zone,--the famous Latin Quarter.
A cabman hailed him as "bourgeois," and urged the superiority of driving
over walking. A gamin, with an appearance of great concern, requested the
latest telegraphic news from London, and then, standing on his head,
invited Selby to feats of strength. A pretty girl gave him a glance from a
pair of violet eyes. He did not see her, but she, catching her own
reflection in a window, wondered at the colour burning in her cheeks.
Turning to resume her course, she met Foxhall Clifford, and hurried on.
Clifford, open-mouthed, followed her with his eyes; then he looked after
Selby, who had turned into the Boulevard St. Germain toward the rue de
Seine. Then he examined himself in the shop window. The result seemed to
"I'm not a beauty," he mused, "but neither am I a hobgoblin. What does she
mean by blushing at Selby? I never before saw her look at a fellow in my
life,--neither has any one in the Quarter. Anyway, I can swear she never
looks at me, and goodness knows I have done all that respectful adoration
He sighed, and murmuring a prophecy concerning the salvation of his
immortal soul swung into that graceful lounge which at all times
characterized Clifford. With no apparent exertion, he overtook Selby at
the corner, and together they crossed the sunlit Boulevard and sat down
under the awning of the Cafe du Cercle. Clifford bowed to everybody on the
terrace, saying, "You shall meet them all later, but now let me present
you to two of the sights of Paris, Mr. Richard Elliott and Mr. Stanley
The "sights" looked amiable, and took vermouth.
"You cut the studio to-day," said Elliott, suddenly turning on Clifford,
who avoided his eyes.
"To commune with nature?" observed Rowden.
"What's her name this time?" asked Elliott, and Rowden answered promptly,
"Name, Yvette; nationality, Breton--"
"Wrong," replied Clifford blandly, "it's Rue Barree."
The subject changed instantly, and Selby listened in surprise to names
which were new to him, and eulogies on the latest Prix de Rome winner. He
was delighted to hear opinions boldly expressed and points honestly
debated, although the vehicle was mostly slang, both English and French.
He longed for the time when he too should be plunged into the strife for
The bells of St. Sulpice struck the hour, and the Palace of the Luxembourg
answered chime on chime. With a glance at the sun, dipping low in the
golden dust behind the Palais Bourbon, they rose, and turning to the east,
crossed the Boulevard St. Germain and sauntered toward the Ecole de
Medecine. At the corner a girl passed them, walking hurriedly. Clifford
smirked, Elliot and Rowden were agitated, but they all bowed, and, without
raising her eyes, she returned their salute. But Selby, who had lagged
behind, fascinated by some gay shop window, looked up to meet two of the
bluest eyes he had ever seen. The eyes were dropped in an instant, and the
young fellow hastened to overtake the others.
"By Jove," he said, "do you fellows know I have just seen the prettiest
girl--" An exclamation broke from the trio, gloomy, foreboding, like the
chorus in a Greek play.
"What!" cried Selby, bewildered.
The only answer was a vague gesture from Clifford.
Two hours later, during dinner, Clifford turned to Selby and said, "You
want to ask me something; I can tell by the way you fidget about."
"Yes, I do," he said, innocently enough; "it's about that girl. Who is
In Rowden's smile there was pity, in Elliott's bitterness.
"Her name," said Clifford solemnly, "is unknown to any one, at least," he
added with much conscientiousness, "as far as I can learn. Every fellow in
the Quarter bows to her and she returns the salute gravely, but no man has
ever been known to obtain more than that. Her profession, judging from her
music-roll, is that of a pianist. Her residence is in a small and humble
street which is kept in a perpetual process of repair by the city
authorities, and from the black letters painted on the barrier which
defends the street from traffic, she has taken the name by which we know
her,--Rue Barree. Mr. Rowden, in his imperfect knowledge of the French
tongue, called our attention to it as Roo Barry--"
"I didn't," said Rowden hotly.
"And Roo Barry, or Rue Barree, is to-day an object of adoration to every
rapin in the Quarter--"
"We are not rapins," corrected Elliott.
"_I_ am not," returned Clifford, "and I beg to call to your attention,
Selby, that these two gentlemen have at various and apparently unfortunate
moments, offered to lay down life and limb at the feet of Rue Barree. The
lady possesses a chilling smile which she uses on such occasions and,"
here he became gloomily impressive, "I have been forced to believe that
neither the scholarly grace of my friend Elliott nor the buxom beauty of
my friend Rowden have touched that heart of ice."
Elliott and Rowden, boiling with indignation, cried out, "And you!"
"I," said Clifford blandly, "do fear to tread where you rush in."
Twenty-four hours later Selby had completely forgotten Rue Barree. During
the week he worked with might and main at the studio, and Saturday night
found him so tired that he went to bed before dinner and had a nightmare
about a river of yellow ochre in which he was drowning. Sunday morning,
apropos of nothing at all, he thought of Rue Barree, and ten seconds
afterwards he saw her. It was at the flower-market on the marble bridge.
She was examining a pot of pansies. The gardener had evidently thrown
heart and soul into the transaction, but Rue Barree shook her head.
It is a question whether Selby would have stopped then and there to
inspect a cabbage-rose had not Clifford unwound for him the yarn of the
previous Tuesday. It is possible that his curiosity was piqued, for with
the exception of a hen-turkey, a boy of nineteen is the most openly
curious biped alive. From twenty until death he tries to conceal it. But,
to be fair to Selby, it is also true that the market was attractive. Under
a cloudless sky the flowers were packed and heaped along the marble bridge
to the parapet. The air was soft, the sun spun a shadowy lacework among
the palms and glowed in the hearts of a thousand roses. Spring had
come,--was in full tide. The watering carts and sprinklers spread
freshness over the Boulevard, the sparrows had become vulgarly obtrusive,
and the credulous Seine angler anxiously followed his gaudy quill floating
among the soapsuds of the lavoirs. The white-spiked chestnuts clad in
tender green vibrated with the hum of bees. Shoddy butterflies flaunted
their winter rags among the heliotrope. There was a smell of fresh earth
in the air, an echo of the woodland brook in the ripple of the Seine, and
swallows soared and skimmed among the anchored river craft. Somewhere in a
window a caged bird was singing its heart out to the sky.
Selby looked at the cabbage-rose and then at the sky. Something in the
song of the caged bird may have moved him, or perhaps it was that
dangerous sweetness in the air of May.
At first he was hardly conscious that he had stopped then he was scarcely
conscious why he had stopped, then he thought he would move on, then he
thought he wouldn't, then he looked at Rue Barree.
The gardener said, "Mademoiselle, this is undoubtedly a fine pot of
Rue Barree shook her head.
The gardener smiled. She evidently did not want the pansies. She had
bought many pots of pansies there, two or three every spring, and never
argued. What did she want then? The pansies were evidently a feeler toward
a more important transaction. The gardener rubbed his hands and gazed
"These tulips are magnificent," he observed, "and these hyacinths--" He
fell into a trance at the mere sight of the scented thickets.
"That," murmured Rue, pointing to a splendid rose-bush with her furled
parasol, but in spite of her, her voice trembled a little. Selby noticed
it, more shame to him that he was listening, and the gardener noticed it,
and, burying his nose in the roses, scented a bargain. Still, to do him
justice, he did not add a centime to the honest value of the plant, for
after all, Rue was probably poor, and any one could see she was charming.
"Fifty francs, Mademoiselle."
The gardener's tone was grave. Rue felt that argument would be wasted.
They both stood silent for a moment. The gardener did not eulogize his
prize,--the rose-tree was gorgeous and any one could see it.
"I will take the pansies," said the girl, and drew two francs from a worn
purse. Then she looked up. A tear-drop stood in the way refracting the
light like a diamond, but as it rolled into a little corner by her nose a
vision of Selby replaced it, and when a brush of the handkerchief had
cleared the startled blue eyes, Selby himself appeared, very much
embarrassed. He instantly looked up into the sky, apparently devoured with
a thirst for astronomical research, and as he continued his investigations
for fully five minutes, the gardener looked up too, and so did a
policeman. Then Selby looked at the tips of his boots, the gardener looked
at him and the policeman slouched on. Rue Barree had been gone some time.
"What," said the gardener, "may I offer Monsieur?"
Selby never knew why, but he suddenly began to buy flowers. The gardener
was electrified. Never before had he sold so many flowers, never at such
satisfying prices, and never, never with such absolute unanimity of
opinion with a customer. But he missed the bargaining, the arguing, the
calling of Heaven to witness. The transaction lacked spice.
"These tulips are magnificent!"
"They are!" cried Selby warmly.
"But alas, they are dear."